Daphne Campbell, a member of the Florida House of Representatives.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
A FLORIDA lawmaker of Haitian descent vowed yesterday to stop at nothing until tourists and international businesses boycott this country because of controversial immigration policies that came into effect on November 1.
Daphne Campbell, Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives, spoke in Florida about the matter during a press conference broadcast on Channel 7 news yesterday.
At one point during the conference, she exclaimed: “Boycott Bahamas! Boycott Bahamas to end discrimination against Haitian children!”
Proclaiming to be a “voice for the voiceless,” Mrs Campbell later told this newspaper that she took her position after seeing a video showing Haitian children facing deportation to Haiti being led away during recent immigration arrests.
Distressed Haitian parents in Florida showed her the video, along with other “alarming” photos, she said.
She said Bahamian government officials have one week to apologise and reverse the new policies, or she will travel here with a delegation to address them face-to-face.
She also pledged to be persistent in raising awareness around the world about the “injustices” performed in this country as long as the immigration policies remain unchanged.
She said she will hold another press conference in a week if officials here do not reverse the policies.
Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell dismissed her threats yesterday.
“She’s a fool,” he said when contacted for comment. “Anyone who talks about boycotting the Bahamas, I can’t have any time for them. That’s absolute rot. It’s amazing the stupidity that’s circulating around this. It’s just astounding.”
He later noted in a statement that her claims about Haitian children being mistreated here are false.
Mrs Campbell said Haitian parents in Florida, expressing their distress over recent immigration apprehensions in this country, have been overcome with emotion as they seek her help even while she campaigns for re-election.
“I got the information from a group of Haitian parents who came to my office in alarming and overwhelming distress,” she said. “I was preparing my campaign for my re-election. Even though I have a very nasty opponent, I put everything on the side to make sure my office wrote a letter to the Bahamian government, the prime minister of the Bahamas and we even reached out to the consulate in Miami. Plenty people came to my office to complain with videos and pictures.”
“I call on President Obama, Governor (Rick) Scott and the people who are supposed to make sure the voice of the voiceless are heard; we must boycott Bahamas.”
Asked how she planned to succeed in her efforts, she said: “We will do as much we can. I am a lawmaker. I could slap Bahamas with a law in Florida.”
“I will get all my colleagues with me,” she added. “I will get elected officials. We have Cuban elected officials with us supporting that initiative because it involves every culture, everybody who understands the meaning of children.”
She said children born in the Bahamas should never be deported.
“To me it is very unfair (to deport them),” she said. “It’s an injustice. . .for them to be deported to a country they don’t know, a country they can’t speak the language of, with no one to take care of them, to be deported – that’s terrible.”
“Bahamian culture has been doing this for years,” she continued. “I think they have no heart of God of all.”